The British government should “redouble efforts” to build an alliance with other EU member states to reduce the burden of health and safety legislation and remove unnecessary bureaucracy, manufacturers’ organisation the EEF has said.
The call was made on the back of an annual health and safety survey by the EEF showing companies’ concern at proposals for yet more legislation. In contrast, the survey revealed a strong appetite for case study guidance as the best means of improving control of key risks.
The survey also rejected pressure to introduce statutory licensing of both health and safety advisers and consultants. The most popular option is a tougher voluntary accreditation system for consultants that is due to be introduced shortly.
EEF head of health and safety Steve Pointer said: “The legislative framework in the UK is mature and there is little belief amongst those managing health and safety that further legislation would raise standards. However, while there is pressure in the UK to reduce legislation and remove unnecessary bureaucracy, the European Commission is moving in the opposite direction, continuing to propose new legal requirements.
“The Health and Safety Executive has been taking a pragmatic and constructive approach to EU legislation. However, the UK government needs to redouble its work with other member states to build a coalition for change. The European Commission’s next health and safety strategy needs to focus on improving consistency of application of existing requirements, not on producing further legislation.”
The survey looked at two pieces of proposed EU legislation which are due to be extended. It found that three quarters of companies disagreed with European Commission proposals to require that stress and work pressure be considered as part of risk assessments for back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders.
It also found that proposals to change legislation on ionising radiations were unnecessary. Of the quarter of businesses that worked with ionising radiations surveyed by the EEF, 95% believed that the current law is appropriate and should be neither tightened nor relaxed. The EEF believes both of these findings suggest a strong endorsement of the current legislation as fit for purpose.
The survey also backed a key recommendation in Lord Young’s ‘Common Sense: Common Safety’ report to the Prime Minister. He had originally indicated that he favoured introducing a statutory licensing system for both in-house health and safety advisors and consultants. Sixty per cent were opposed to any statutory licensing system and less than 15% supported a licensing system for both groups.
The most popular option was the one that the Young report eventually recommended and which is due to be introduced – a tougher voluntary accreditation system for all those advertising their services as health and safety consultants.
The survey findings identified a need for case study guidance that provides companies with practical solutions to health and safety problems. Responding to this finding, the EEF has launched its latest case study guidance on musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain and repetitive strain injuries. The guidance provides practical examples of how to tackle common problems and is freely available to all EEF members.